The City of Crochet

Crocheting...an escape from everyday life in Europe as I face the perils of yarn shopping in a foreign country and dealing with all of the crazy looks I get for crocheting & knitting on the public transportation system.

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Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all of my friends and family!

Our snow has almost totally melted since I got home, but there is just a little bit sticking around to make it a semi-white Christmas!!

I've been busy running around trying to do everything I could....I finished my shopping up yesterday on Christmas eve! I thought that I was insane to go to the shopping mall yesterday, but it was actually almost empty and Izipped through th estores and lines....hmmm....perhaps I should wait until the last minute every year! lol

Okay, I am off to spiffy myself up for the upcoming days events and festivities! I hope that everyone had a wonderful and joyous Christmas!!

All the best to you and yours for the upcoming new year!!
Kimberly

Sunday, December 18, 2005

I've arrived!!!

Greetings from the snow filled wintery wonderland of Michigan!

I arrived in last night and so far no signs of jet lag.....aside from waking up several times and forcing myself to keep sleeping until about 5:30 this morning when I said "to heck with it" and got up and started unpacking!

Many thanks to everyone who has sent me little elf droppings! The generosity has left me speechless! I will be posting proper thank yous as soon as I am able, but right now I am on my way to a sleepover party at my sisters....my nephew Andrew told me this morning that I HAD to come over and that he would sleep on the floor so I could sleep in the bed!

Talk to you all soon - I promise!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The countdown is on......

Well, we are just about under 24 hours now! In exactly 24 hours from the minute I am typing this I will be already sitting on the plane anxiously waiting to take of and go flying across the ocean to....Atlanta! Atlanta you ask with a funny question. Yes, I know Atlanta is miles from Michigan, but it was much more cost efficient to fly there and then fly up to Michigan than it was to fly to Chicago, New York or Washington DC first...I know, I checked! It adds just under 2 hours to my flight time, but the total 4 hours round trip saves me over 200 dollars....I am more than willing to sacrifice 4 hours for 50 per hour to stay in my pocket.....that means more Christmas presents and goodies that I can buy!

So I'll keep counting down the hours, minutes and seconds! And in 36 hours from now I will be pulling around the corner of my parents street and pulling into their driveway....oh wait, am I going home first or to my sisters to see the one person who thinks that Aunt Kim coming home is a bigger event than Santa Claus coming? Decisions, decisions! *grin*

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Questions answered....

I have had several comments and e-mails lately around the same subject....my profile description!

I am currently living and working in Brussels, originally from Michigan in the USA. Staying in Belgium until the end of 2005 and then its off to destinations unknown....probably Chicago once again but you never know!


I really don't know when I am moving back. Its kinda hard to articulate (even to myself) my thoughts and feelings on what I should do next. I have been unhappy with my job, thats no secret. I have a meeting on January 13th in Zurich to decide the fate of the project I have been working on along with, I guess my fate! To go along with this I will be having my mid-year / year-end review all happening at the same time with my boss so more decisions will be made then!

I know that if I stayed in Belgium things would be very different. Zori is moving back to Argentina and Kim is scheduled to move to Zurich in January.

But if I did stay, it would have to be for a different job / different roles and responsibilities. I can not keep doing this data mining and analysis role - I'm way too over qualified for it but the only reason that I am the one doing it is because I am so darn good with the systems pulling out the needed data (being a computer minor in college I understand how to write queries and macros and code and even small programs)

I think that I should have several options that I can explore.

The first being stay in my current position but with a role change from one specific project to overall finance coordinator / analysis for all of the European projects which was what my role was to be in the beginning.

The second being that I move back to the US. I would need to talk to two of my former bosses, Stuart and Pablo to see if they have any open positions on their team / know of any open positions. With Stuart, the job would be in the Chicago area, and with Pablo it could be in Florida, Latin/South America or even the Asia/Pacific region! Not so sure on the non-US options if I would even consider those.

And the third that I look for a different position in Europe - potentially Zurich, doing either finance or looking at a non-finance role! Several possibilities floating about out there I do believe.

Of course, there is always the option that I throw the towel in and quit Baxter and move back to Michigan and look for a job there with a different company. This one is the least likely scenario to happen! I really do like Baxter, and I just can not see myself moving back to Muskegon and finding a job that would keep me happy..Grand Rapids perhaps.

I really do miss all of my family and friends which makes being away so hard. But at the same time, if I was living in the US, there is no way that I would be able to take the 2 weeks in March to go on holidays to Florida, spend 1 week at home in the summer and then 3 weeks over Christmas...plus the other holidays that I have taken! but on the other hand if I was back in Chicago, folks could come visit me on the weekend, and I could go to Michigan on the weekends as well.

Okay, I think that I am done rambling now. Those are my options, and I will wait and see in January which one is going to be my future! The one thing that I do know is that I can not stay with what I am doing now....I would go crazy!!!!!!

Monday, December 12, 2005

A Different Christmas Poem

One of my very good friends is a K-9 Military Policeman at Fort Sill in Oklahoma. He sent me this forward and I thought to share it with everyone. Please take some time this Holiday season to remember those who have come before, who are now, and who will come after that serve their countries in peace time and war. Remember those who did not get to go home standing, and those who are still missing but never forgotten.

A DIFFERENT CHRISTMAS POEM

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.

My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.

The sparkling lights in the tree, I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love, I would sleep.

In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.

Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.

Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.

Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, my wife, and my child.

"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!

Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts.

To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice, I'm here every night."

"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.

No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.

My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."

My dad stood his watch in the jungles of Vietnam,
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.

"I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.

I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.

I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother.

Who stand at the front, against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."

"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."

"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?

It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.

To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.

For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember, how we fought and we bled.

Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you, as you mattered to us."

Christmas Cookies

I hope that every ones weekend was great! I spent an easy day on Saturday around the house and a quick trip to go out shopping for some clothes - bought a lovely black turtleneck sweater and a really fancy top that would be cute for a fancy Christmas or New Years party!

On Sunday I invited Zori and Suzy over and we made Christmas cookies! We made oodles of cutout cookies and some thumbprint cookies which I can best describe as a round ball chocolate chip cookie minus the chocolate chips with frosting on it!

In the spirit of Christmas (and the desire that everyone else gain the 10 lbs that I am sure to gain with all of the sweets I am going to be eating) here is the recipe for Thumbprint Cookies - enjoy!!

Thumbprint Cookies Bake 10-12 minutes at 350°F

1 C margarine (2 sticks) 1/2 C packed Brown sugar
2 eggs (separated) 1 tsp. vanilla
2 C flour 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 C finely chopped walnuts

Mix margarine, sugar, vanilla & egg YOLK. Stir in flour & salt. Roll into balls (1 tsp) Beat egg white with fork. Dip balls into egg white and then roll in nuts (nuts are optional!) Place 2" apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Gently press thumb into center. Bake 10-12 mins until set. Cool and fill thumbprints with buttercream icing. (Makes 3 dozen)


Buttercream Frosting
1 pound of powdered sugar (1 box of Dominos is 1 Lb)
1 stick margarine (1/2 Cup)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 to 1/2 C. milk

Cream margarine and vanilla together in a bowl. Add the powdered sugar and mix until creamy. Mix small amount of milk in until desired consistency. Stir in food coloring for decorating.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Holiday Fun and Games

Seen on Amy's Blog


Christmas Elf Name

My Christmas Elf Name is
Get your Christmas Elf Name at JokesUnlimited.com


Oh goodness....I can only imagine what the 577 bad entries are for...actually I have a very good idea about a few of them!


Christmas Naughty or Nice List

I am on the The Nice List

After checking the North Pole database I had :

2,008 nice entries
577 naughty entries
Check your name on the Christmas Naughty or Nice List at JokesUnlimited.com


Hey! Mind out of the gutter folks! My bad entries are for my road rage swearing while driving.....I learned from my momma and she ranks right up their with the best of them! Good thing that I don't drive much, or that number would be a LOT higher!! *grin*

More to be added later once I am home and not being blocked by work from accessing the Quizilla web site!

I got the snowflake blues!!!

First up - head over to Jessi's blog to read her posting of "A Crocheter's Night Before Christmas"

Second - here is my snowflake blues from last night: I'm in a funk...thats right folks I said FUNK!!! I printed off patterns of pretty snowflakes, then I went shopping to Carrefour for some glorious tea! Home was my next destination, to pull out my hooks, and I tell you my friends, I did just that! I brewed myself a cup of Christmas Tea, and settled down on my bed wrapped snug in my duvet. I looked at my hooks, I looked at my thread. I sorted through patterns, I scratched my head. I hemmed and I hawed....I stared at the ceiling. No matter my desire, my doing was gone! I looked deep inside, but I couldn't start hooking! I sighed and my thread hooks went onto the floor....and I reached next to the bed and pulled out my needles!! Now this was not right, I had snowflakes to make! But a scarf of fun fur was my project last night!

Third - well, my countdown is on its one week from today, I'll fly away to the land of much snow! I'm not sure why, but I'm trying to rhyme...it must be the season, there can be no other reason! I've not had a shot of cinnamon schnapps, no alcohol is in me, making me go pee! :) Bad, I know! But 7 days from today and I'll be leaving on that jet plane! Oooh....plane....thats 14 straight hours of crocheting time! *grin*

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Tis the season to be.......

Well, whats it gonna be...naughty or nice? I've been being nice so far, but things could always change! *grin*

I continue to slowly work my way into the holiday spirit! Last night I made Anise Rock Candy, a recipe that originated from my Grandmother and evolved thanks to efforts made by myself and my Aunt.

If anyone is interested in making some really yummy candy that is extremely easy, here you go!

Kimberly's Anise Candy

Ingredients:
3 3/4 Cup white sugar
1 1/4 Cup corn syrup
1 Cup water
1 full bottle of Anise flavoring
Food coloring of choice
Candy Thermometer

Directions:
Combine first 3 ingredients and boil to 300° F stirring occasionally

Remove from heat and add anise and desired fool coloring (Be CAREFUL it spurts when you add the Anise and coloring.)

Beat well and pour onto XXX sugar covered sheets.

Score the candy into bite size pieces with a kitchen knife once it starts to stiffen.

Cover with more XXX sugar.

Allow the candy to completely Cool and break into pieces, using the scored lines.

Store in airtight container.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

I've been trying......

Really, I have been trying!! Its just so darn hard to get in the holiday spirit! For YEARS I always had my Christmas shopping done on Thanksgiving. Honestly! I was one who hated to sit around waiting for it to get done, so I'd start early. Heck, I bought the main presents for my 3 neices in March this year. But here it is December 4th, and I have nothing else bough....nothing! And crocheting...Well, thats a lost cause I've decided along with knitting more of those blasted fur scarves!

Soooo, to get me in the spirit I've been sitting on my couch all day long with Christmas music blaring in my apartment, and 10 WIPS sitting in front of me....well, there were 7 to start and of course I just had to start a few others...falling behind here! I'm of the mentality that as long as I am working on things I'm making progress....do I really care that nothing is get completed because I knit 10 rows on one scarf, switch to another. Crochet another full skein on one scarf, make 4 more blocks for one afghan and then switch and make 2 blocks for the other afghan.

Well.....I did finish another 2 snowflakes, and tried the whole sugar stiffening deal on 4 of my completed flakes...oh ugh!!!! Talk about messy...and, well sticky! Has anyone used this method? Do the flakes really attract ants and other pests once they have dried? Do I dare send them out to folks if this is a possible side effect?

Oh! Another question - if I am sending tea out to a few folks, should I check with folks first to see if they use loose leaf tea? Do I assume that they do, and let them figure out what to do with it once they receive it, or do I go the over cautious route and send a tea thing-a-ma-bob with the loose tea to them????? Or do I not risk it, and be boring and send the not so yummy bagged tea that I have?

Okay, I am off to bed. I hope that everyone had a great weekend and a great upcoming week to all!! Just think - only 21 more days until Christmas! *grin*

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Pineapple Bell Pattern

As I've seen a few requests for the Bell pattern, I thought to post it for everyone!

http://members.tripod.com/CarolynMurphy/pinapbel.html

I woke up today at 6:15 to the beep beep beep of my neighbors alarm clock.....he is gone and left it turned on...oh joy! I called the super yesterday on it, but of course he could not unplug it like he said he would....incompetent buffoon! Can't wait until Monday when I get to chew his arse out since I will be awaken tomorrow morning at 6:15 as well! I went shopping and spent a small fortune on clothes, shipping materials, odds and ends for the Christmas wish lists at Crochetville etc etc etc

Came home and made snow flakes......lots and lots of snowflakes.....okay, perhaps not lots and lots but 10 is a good number of them! I tried several patterns. Once I get them blocked and find a way to stiffen them, I'll post some pictures up.

Next up on my agenda - going to the bar to have a few drinks. My best friend's Dad is getting married today. I was invited, but since I am in Europe it was slightly impossible to make it! Since the rest of my family is there (Mike has been really good friends with my Dad since before I was born!) I really need to celebrate the occasion, so I'll be having a drink or two from this side of the Atlantic!

Enjoy your weekend!!!

Psst - Jessi - it looks like my visit to Ann Arbor is a go! Will let you know the specific dates that I'll be there - probably after Christmas around the 27th or 28th - I need verify Stormy's day off.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Picture Update....volume one

Here are a few pictures of recent items - sorry that there are no London pictures yet, I will post some soon I promise! With not being able to see pictures at work anymore, posting them on my lunch break is no longer possible!




Here is a Thread Pineapple Bell that I did recently - the pattern worked up fairly easy with my only issue being starching! I did not have any small dixie cups so I improvised, and will probably re-do it once I am back in the US anyhow!



Next up is the scarf set that I made for my neice. It is in a fun fur purple with silver sparkles in it - I made a cabbage patch scarf to go along with it!




And finally is my Christmas Tea Calendar! I start drinking it last night...lets just say that day one was Yuck! It had cocoa, black pepper, ginger, cardomon (??), and a few other spices in it. I really did not read the package (in french) too well until I was talking on the phone a few minutes ago with my mom and I realized that it was supposed to be drank with milk....will try it again when I am back in the US (each day has 2 servings) to see if that improves it at all!

Have a great day everyone!!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Holiday Edition of Getting to Know Your Friends

Welcome to the 2005 Holiday Edition of Getting to Know Your Friends!
Stolen from Lori's blog and Amy's Blog

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?

Egg nog….whats that? * grin * hot cocoa all the way!

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?

Santa always wrap his presents….even the big ones

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?

Colored light…the big old fashioned C-9s that suck up the electricity and cost a small fortune to light for the holiday period....hence the reason my father always gets a personal card from the electric company each year!

4. Do you hang mistletoe?

In between the dining room and family room….have not caught anyone under it yet…..I did teach my niece last year (at 14 months) to say “mis-toe” and when you asked her where it was she would go point at it!

5. When do you put your decorations up?

Thanksgiving time, although Christmas lights are started earlier due to the wish to avoid putting them up in a blizzard and falling off the roof!

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?

Cheesey hashbrown potatoes

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child?

Walking into Christmas Eve mass with no snow anywhere and praying super hard for some during the whole mass, only to walk out after mass had ended to find snow falling down and covering everything!

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?

First grade, a slumber party at Colleen Fitzgerald house….I don’t even remember her as I have not seen her in probably 20 years, but I still remember it was at her house!

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?

We always open gifts that we are exchanging with our best friends who have come over for Christmas Eve mass and breakfast

10. What kind of cookies does Santa get set out for him?

Thumbprints and Cut-Out cookies….with carrots left out for the reindeers of course

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?

Have to love it!!! Although I would enjoy it more if it only fell on the trees, bushes and grass and left the sidewalks and streets bare

12. Can you ice skate?

I can indeed….its not always the prettiest, but I can manage to stay up on them!

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?

Ooooh….probably the Barbie motor-home

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you?

Spending time with family and friends

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?

Peppermint Oreo Dessert

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Christmas Eve……we always go to mass on Christmas Eve – my family and my friend Stormy’s family and then go back to my Parents for Christmas Eve breakfast, an old French tradition. We usually have waffles, eggs, cheesy hashbrowns, breads and for desert Peppermint Oreo ice cream dessert. This is usually accompanied by Verdi (a yummy, but cheap sparkling wine) and followed occasionally a shot or two when Grandma is not looking. Presents are exchanged and opened and the evening is rounded out with an exciting, and often blood letting game of Spoons….we play cut throat, anything goes but breaking the china hutch and chandelier type of spoons!

17. What tops your tree?

I received a Santa topper from my parents for my tree that is sitting in storage somewhere!

18. Which do you prefer Giving or Receiving?

I actually love to give more than receive, although that is close call there! I love seeing peoples reactions to their presents and am usually impatiently waiting them to get to mine.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Carol?
I have a few favorites:
Let it Snow Let it Snow Let it Snow (Mom, I’ve started singing it…hows your snow forecast looking?)
No Place Like Home for the Holidays
Fairytale in NewYork by the Pogues (kinda odd, but have to love a Christmas song that says “you scumbag, you maggot” and sings about drunks in the slammer…..bizarre, strange, and highly entertaining in a way that is wrong on so many levels)

20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum?

Yummy!!! I love candy canes in hot cocoa as well!